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General Election 2024: Voter ID and Postal Vote Issues Risk Casting Shadow Over Polling Day

Nearly half of Brits incorrectly believe that a polling card can be used as ID when voting

People queue at a polling station in London, Thursday, July 4, 2024. Photo: AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

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Hundreds of voters have taken part in Byline Timespolling day survey in the first few hours of voting, with some reporting queues, confusion over mandatory voter ID, and being disenfranchised due to postal vote delays.

Reports from across the country indicate that in some cases the requirement for valid photo identification has added to queues, and in some cases, led to voters being turned away from polling stations.

This is the first General Election where photo ID is required everywhere. A survey conducted for Byline Times by independent pollsters WeThink on Wednesday revealed that 47% of Brits mistakenly believe that a polling card is sufficient identification at the polling station.

Lines at a polling station at Chatham & Aylesford constituency. Photo: Darren Lovell @Darren157

This misconception risks some being turned away when they arrive to vote without the required photo ID. Last week the Electoral Reform Society warned that over one million voters risked not having an accepted form of identification to vote.

The Byline Times survey also found that 7% of Brits were not even aware that they needed to provide a valid form of photo ID to vote. In a separate question, 7% did not think they possessed a valid form of ID. There may be overlap between the two groups.

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Personal stories from voters are already rolling in. Barry Male, a Byline Times reader in Birmingham Edgbaston, reported witnessing an elderly man with breathing difficulties being turned away because he only had his white polling card.

Mark Skinner from Buckingham & Bletchley shared that polling staff at his station had to turn some people away who lacked ID, and asked them to return later.

In Southend-on-Sea, Mark Adlington noted that his postal vote still hadn’t arrived, a scenario echoed by many others who faced postal chaos.

Nick Soper in Mid Dunbartonshire told this outlet he witnessed a man at his polling station complaining he had not received his postal vote, and nor had his two kids.

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“He couldn’t collect it from the council as he was working, and the council office closed at 5pm. So, [that’s] three votes probably lost,” Soper said.

Ralph Lynch, from Wokingham, had issues presenting his valid PASS proof of age card when trying to vote. The 20-year-old told Byline Times that officials took issue with his identification that featured a PASS hologram as his photo ID, which was “listed on the poll card as being accepted”.

“The polling clerk didn’t accept it, and asked the presiding officer to check it,” he explained. “She didn’t think it was accepted either, so phoned someone at the council. After some insistence from me that it was an accepted form of voter ID, and pointing at the list of accepted ID on the poll card, I was issued with a ballot paper.”

Naomi Smith of Best for Britain told Byline Times how she saw two NHS staff, “one of whom was definitely a nurse”, get turned away when they they tried to vote, leaving them “very pissed off”.

“They were dressed for their shift, and they were turned away because the only ID they had with them was photographic staff ID, NHS identity cards,” Smith said, adding: “They obviously hadn’t realised that that was not an eligible form of ID to be able to vote. They looked like they were on their way to work, to do a long shift, and were probably therefore, sadly, highly unlikely to come back to vote. They were both very pissed off.”

Concerns over the voting go beyond the process itself. The WeThink/Byline Times poll found that 23% of voters do not believe their vote truly counts, no doubt partly stemming from Westminster’s one-person-takes-all voting system.

The figure is understandably higher among Lib Dem supporters, 26%, and Reform UK supporters, 34%, with the latter likely to be under-represented alongside the Greens, compared to their national vote share. It comes as tactical voting sites report reaching millions of people.


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Election monitoring efforts have been ramped up, with Byline Times urging voters to report any issues they encounter at the polls.

Byline Times will be covering the election results live from Byline Festival in Devon tonight from 9:30pm and through the night, streamed on YouTube.

An Electoral Commission spokesperson told Byline Times previously: “If a voter hasn’t received their postal ballot pack, they can request a replacement postal ballot pack in person from their local authority. They can do this up to 5pm on polling day. They will need to take a photo ID. 

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“Relevant contact details for a voter’s local election team can be found by entering their post code on our website.”

Unknown to many voters is the fact that emergency proxy votes are only available for medical emergencies, if someone is away for work, or their photo ID is lost or stolen.

Voters can hand in a maximum of five postal ballots (as well as their own) in a polling station on Thursday, but are required to complete a form at the polling station when doing so. That is, of course, of little use to most overseas voters at this stage.

Update 6:45pm: This piece was amended to note that Ralph Lynch’s ID was a PASS proof of age card, not a student ID.

Take part in Byline Times‘ election day survey here and please share it with your family and friends.

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